Fight to block science park expansion

20 Jun 2008
CAMPAIGNERS are ready to regroup to fight the latest plans to expand Sittingbourne's Kent Science Park.

Developers claim the £25 million investment could create up to 500 jobs.

But the scheme has already angered Tunstall Parish Council whose members know nothing about the proposals.

They will attend the public meeting at Tunstall Village Hall on Wednesday without any advance warning of what is proposed.

La Salle Divestment Management will be asking people for their views on the plan for the park over the next five years, and discussing the effect on traffic on Ruins Barn Road.

The proposals include a new arrivals centre, for which a planning application has already been lodged with Swale Borough Council, plus the development of further technology units, and proposed expansion of the park by four hectares to house new companies and an international headquarters building for Ecologia.

Andrew Bull, of LaSalle which manages Kent Science Park, said: "These proposals, which are consistent with
the Swale Local Plan, will ensure the Park has the ability to accommodate the needs of existing tenants and new companies moving to the park over the next four to five years."

Increased traffic

The arrivals centre would replace the existing gatehouse.

The proposed four hectare expansion was rejected by the Local Plan inspector.

The second phase of technology units were turned down by Swale Borough Council in February after Tunstall villagers fought against the threat of increased traffic.

Andy Hudson, spokesman for the Five Parishes Opposition Group (FPOG), said: "We are somewhat perplexed as to why the owners of the Kent Science Park would wish to submit these applications given that one is very similar to a proposal only recently rejected by a government inspector and another has only just been rejected by Swale Borough Council.

"The local plan only adopted in February takes forward the inspectors' view that there are still expansion opportunities within the security fence.

"It is difficult to see what has changed since the inquiry, other than the fact the site employs less people than it did at the time and additional floor space constructed since, in the shape of the first phase of technology units, still remain vacant despite reassurances that the space was effectively let to existing tenants at the time of the application.

"FPOG remains strongly opposed to any expansion beyond the security fence."